What Is Comparative Negligence?
When someone suffers an injury due to another party’s negligence, they’re often entitled to seek financial compensation. The courts in America award monetary damages based on either comparative negligence or contributory negligence rules. In Michigan, comparative negligence dictates compensation in personal injury claims.
This means that the courts will compare all parties’ percentages of fault when making a determination on compensation. Each party will have to pay the percentage of court award equal to their level of fault. In a straightforward scenario, this would mean a $1 million verdict for the plaintiff would be reduced by $100,000 if the plaintiff was 10% at fault for their injury.
However, comparative negligence in Michigan personal injury cases can get far more complex.
The Nuances of Comparative Negligence in Michigan
Like other states that practice comparative negligence, Michigan law allows personal injury victims to recover damages even if they share responsibility for their injury. In some states, plaintiffs are barred from any compensation if they’re more than 50% at fault. However, this isn’t the case in Michigan. Even if the victim is 99% liable, they can still collect 1% in damages.
However, there are nuances to the law when it comes to non-economic damages. This is a form of monetary recovery meant to compensate a person for non-financial losses. These include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, emotional distress, and other injury-related difficulties. Unfortunately, our state does set significant limits on this type of recovery.
Michigan comparative negligence laws bar personal injury victims from non-economic damages if they’re more than 50% liable for their injury. However, this should never stop someone from seeking compensation. Even if a person is unable to receive financial recovery for pain and suffering, they can still recoup lost wages, medical expenses, and other monetary losses.
The Danger of Making Assumptions
It’s an unfortunate reality that many people fail to secure the compensation they’re entitled to. This is typically related to inaccurate assumptions made about personal injury law. In fact, auto accident attorneys often surprise their clients with how much they’re able to recover. Vehicular collisions frequently involve multi-party liability, but this doesn’t mean a victim can’t garner substantial compensation.
Yes, sharing partial liability can reduce your potential recovery. However, it’s important to remember that a court may see things differently than you. While you may think you’re mostly at fault for an accident, evidence could show that an accident was unavoidable on your part due to the negligence of others. There may even be liable parties you never even knew were involved! The moral of the story is this: don’t make assumptions.
While Michigan comparative negligence law has its issues, many injury victims discover that it’s beneficial for their case. And since it’s possible to recover compensation even when you share liability, insurance companies have less leverage to use against you during settlement negotiations.
Should You Agree to a Settlement Offer?
From big truck collisions to slip and fall accidents, the majority of personal injury cases end with a settlement. However, this doesn’t mean you should jump at the chance to accept an offer from an insurance company. Due to Michigan comparative negligence laws, insurers will try their best to make you believe that any level of fault on your part would be disastrous for your case.
If they can convince you that you contributed to your injury, it suddenly becomes easier for them to persuade you into accepting an unfair settlement. Unfortunately, it’s the job of insurance adjusters to save their employer money. So while they may seem caring while discussing your case and promise that their offer is fair, it’s often far from what you really deserve.
In the end, it may require litigation to secure the financial compensation that you’re entitled to. Even if it doesn’t get to this point, however, having an attorney on your side for settlement negotiations can prove invaluable. Simply put, legal representation can pay dividends when Michigan comparative negligence laws are involved.
At Sigal Law Firm, we’ll advocate tirelessly on your behalf to secure every penny you deserve. Contact us today at (248) 220-1234 to schedule your free consultation.